Letting Myself Be Me!
Like most people in the U.S., my distant ancestors were immigrants. However, throughout years of living in the U.S., my ancestors gradually shed their old customs to adopt the new values and ways of life here. And now, generations upon generations later, I sit writing to you not really knowing who they were.
A few years ago I was working with a
diverse group of students who were asked to speak about their ethnic
identity. Everyone had something to say - Asian
American, Islamic, Latino, Chicano, Black. Everyone except me. I was kind of sad to admit that I don't feel a connection with a particular ethnicity. I was sad because it felt like I had lost something that was important.
However, I have a sense of connection and family with people that go beyond my real "relatives." I write that because I am gay and I feel a connection with other people who are gay. Fortunately, I did not live through many of the atrocities that many gay/lesbian youth confront in the U.S., however I have had people make fun of me and I have lost some friends.
I share part of my ethnicity - the race and the culture of their family - with my parents and brothers. However, I also share a part of my identity with a long history of gay people who come from different cultures and speak different languages. It is a family that includes such writers as Oscar Wilde, actresses such as Ellen Degeneres, economists such as John M. Keynes, politicians such as J. Edgar Hoover, and activists such as Candace Gingrich.
So I have changed since that day at work when I said I lack an ethnicity. Today I think that my being gay is like my ethnicity. I have never been one to argue whether one is born gay, or if one is raised that way. I just know it's the way I am, and after years of wanting to be different, I know I am happiest just letting myself be.
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Links to Other Dispatches
Daphne - We've got borax. We've got rat feces. We've got America's meat factories
Rebecca - How would you like that community? Sunny-side up?
One heroic woman that no one will honorS